An organization is only as good as it’s most valuable resource – people.  Soup Kitchen 411 is no exception; the heart and soul of our organization is our team and every member of the team is dedicated to the proposition that hunger is a solvable issue here in America.  We come from different backgrounds and with different skill sets but we all share a passion for what we do here.

Kenneth DeRoberts

Ken DeRoberts

Chairman & Co-Founder of SoupKitchen411, Inc., Ken has extensive experience in finance and operations, both in the public and private sectors. As an expert, he utilizes strategic planning practices to restructure government operations that lead to doing more while costing less.

He currently serves as CEO of Progressive Capital International (PCI), which specializes in corporate and government consulting services. Government Strategy Group (GSG) is a division of PCI, which provides strategic management advice to county and local governments. (www.governmentstrategygroup.com)

For the past 8 years, Ken guest lectures each semester on redevelopment at the Schack Institute – NYU’s graduate school for real estate.

"We do this because we care about people. Our hope is that others will join us and become part of the effort."

Philip Gentile

Philip Gentile

Philip Gentile has, over the past 25 years, provided advice and counseling to public and private businesses, governmental agencies and non-profit entities. Throughout his professional career he has successfully worked hand-in-hand with non-profits, local governments and small businesses in fulfilling their missions. This took the form of identifying various sources of funding, preparing written proposals and business/financing plans and implementing those plans to successful conclusions.

He is quite accomplished at planning and implementing complex projects, working as a leader of various coalitions, public presentations to governing bodies and constituents and managing program implementation to successful conclusions.

Mr. Gentile also assists organizations with defining and redefining their missions. He asks the right questions and re-energizes the conversation about their goals and mission. That could come in the form of refining their whole mission or redefining a program.

Mr. Gentile holds a Juris Doctor degree from St. John’s University and a BA degree in Economics from State University of New York at Albany.

"I was shocked when I learned that hunger was so pervasive. It occurred to me that potentially any friend or neighbor could be affected and I had no idea. And given all of the sources of food I see around me every day, it looked to be a very solvable problem. So once Ken asked for support I was eager to help

Laura M. Ali

Laura Ali

Laura M. Ali is a former Fortune 100 executive who started Triple Win Sales when privately held business owners sought her out to implement proactive and unique sales and marketing strategies that work. Her specialty is generating new business for clients in a down and challenging economy.

Laura's business background includes successful tenures at two Fortune 100 companies Xerox Corporation and RR Donnelley & Sons as well as two startups – Document Sciences Corporation (a Xerox spinoff) and Smartmail Services. In 2008 she decided to take her big business and startup experience to the world of the private sector and she started her own business – Triple Win Sales which is headquartered in Chatham NJ.

Laura is also a community leader and passionate volunteer. In addition to being on the board of Soup Kitchen 411, she also holds the following roles: Board of Trustees for the Chatham Education Foundation; First Vice President Morris County Women’s Republican Club; Board of Governors NJ State Federation of Republican Women. She has also held the following positions: Chatham Township Committeewoman; Candidate for NJ State Assembly 2013; PTO President School District of the Chathams; CCD Teacher Corpus Christi Church; Bridges Feeding the Homeless Coordinator.

You can learn more about Laura by linking into her at linkedin.com/lauraali or via her website www.triplewinsales.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at LauraAli.

“Like starting a business, we are building an organization from the ground up, with the goal of raising awareness about America’s fastest growing epidemic - hunger.”

Raul Esquivel

Raul Esquivel

Raul Esquivel is currently a private investor in Hoboken, New Jersey. Prior to this, from 1997 to 2011, Mr. Esquivel held a number of senior management positions with UBS Investment Bank.

From 1997 to 2005, Mr. Esquivel was the Head of U.S. Equity Research. From 2005 to 2009 he was the Head of Equities for the Americas, with responsibility for the Equity Research, Sales and Trading, Equity Derivatives and Prime Services functions of the investment bank. From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Esquivel served as the Head of UBS Investment Bank-Latin America. In this role, he was responsible for the strategic management, growth and operations of the Equities, Fixed Income and Investment Banking divisions throughout the region.

During his employment at UBS Investment Bank, Mr. Esquivel also served as a member of the Investment Bank Board, the Americas Risk and Regulatory Committee and the Americas Group Coordination Committee.

Prior to assuming these senior management positions, Mr. Esquivel spent 15 years as an equity research analyst and venture capitalist specializing in the medical technology field with such firms as F Eberstadt, Kidder Peabody, and The Vertical Group. His research and investment focus was in minimally invasive surgery across cardiology, orthopedics, neuroradiology and general surgery.

Mr. Esquivel holds an M.B.A. degree from the Harvard Business School, and a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Miami. He is married and has two daughters.

“I was surprised and moved by the magnitude of the hunger deficit problem in this country. It touches many from our neighbors to college students. There is an existing network of soup kitchens across the country, but on average they receive less than five percent of funding from the government. That means private donors and volunteers can make a critical difference.”

Michael Graham

Michael Graham

Michael Graham is Chief Operating Officer of Fairview Insurance Agency Associates, Inc. Michael is a former labor and employment litigator for Proskauer Rose LLP. His experience includes analyzing complex government regulations, employment counseling, and employment litigation for corporate and individual clients.

He has advised Fortune 500 companies on employment law best practices and government compliance. In addition, he has over seven years of corporate experience as a benefits consultant with Fairview Insurance, where he advised public and private sector clients regarding group health benefits. He also served as Deputy National Finance Director to Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Deputy New York Finance Director for Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign.

He is a graduate of Yale University (Bachelor of Arts) and Fordham Law School (Juris Doctorate).

“More Americans are food insecure than are without health insurance. That blows my mind and serves as a reminder of how much work there is to be done.”

Ziad Andrew Shehady

Ziad Andrew Shehady

Ziad Andrew Shehady is the Deputy Mayor of the Township of Springfield in Union County, New Jersey.  He is currently serving his third term on the governing body. Shehady served as Mayor of Springfield in 2010 and 2012. He has previously held positions on the Springfield Planning Board, Springfield Board of Health, Springfield Free Public Library Board of Trustees and the Union County Solid Waste Advisory Board.

Following the terrorist attack on our nation on 9/11, Shehady enlisted in the military as an Infantry soldier in the Army National Guard. He served in the Global War on Terror in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2004 to 2005 and reached the rank of Sergeant before receiving his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in August 2008. He has attained the rank of Captain and is currently assigned to the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Headquarters in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

Shehady has worked for the New Jersey Legislature in District 21 where he was the Legislative Aide for the late Assemblyman Dr. Eric Munoz and Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz.  He also worked as the Director of Operations under former New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey for the Jersey City Employment and Training Program, a quasi-governmental agency that is the parent of the Martin’s Place Reentry Program, Martin’s Place Community Resource Center for the NJ Parole Board, and the NJDLWD-designated operator of the Jersey City One-Stop Career Center.

For more than ten years, Shehady has volunteered with the American Legion Jersey Boys State, a leadership and citizenship training program and serves on its Board of Trustees. Shehady is a member of the Advisory Board for Educate the Block, an organization that helps boost self-sufficiency and improves the workforce through training and employment opportunities in low-income communities. Shehady is on the Board of Directors of Root to Rise, Inc., a non-profit helping those affected by drug and alcohol abuses prevent addiction and relapse. Shehady was awarded his Bachelor of Arts in Politics, French and Linguistics from New York University.

“Soup KItchen 411 is a conduit, a pipeline, for the conscious public to become connected to a soup kitchen near them.”